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News from the Virginia Conference - March 10, 2016

Spring clocks forward Saturday evening
Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13. We lose an hour, so set your clocks one hour forward on Saturday night (e.g., 10 p.m. becomes 11 p.m.) so you won’t miss church! More ...

At convocation, Schmidt says prayers of discernment could change church
Finding out why people aren’t coming to church has caused a frantic period of searching, Dr. Frederick Schmidt told the audience at the March 5 Bishop’s Convocation on Prayer. This has led to all the different ways church members have tried to bring in new members, including crafted sermons made not to offend, rock music in the sanctuary and coffee in the narthex. But Schmidt, who is Reuben P. Job Associate Professor of Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., said what is absent from the church are prayers for discernment. Click here to view video. More ...

Tornado disaster response efforts move to recovery phase
The Virginia Conference continues to aid victims of the Feb. 24 tornadoes that swept across the state. The early response phase has ended. The long-term recovery phase is scheduled to begin around April 1. Volunteer team members do not have to be Emergency Response Team (ERT) credentialed, but they must have a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) certified leader. If you wish to put a team together, download the Work Team Processing form. Complete and return it to the Rev. Kirk Culpepper at or mail it to P.O. Box 1026 Portsmouth, VA 23705. For more information, call the conference Disaster Information line at 1-866-264-8488 or (804) 337-3569 or e-mail Click here to make a donation to Virginia Conference Disaster Response Advance Special #5037.

Lay Servant Ministries to offer On Demand Learning course March 19
Lay Servant Ministries will offer its first of a series of six On Demand Learning courses on Saturday, March 19. "Laity Lead in Worship" will be led by the Rev. Nathan Decker. The class will be offered live 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 19 at the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen. It can be viewed online on your own computer for the next 90 days. The class will focus on basic worship leadership skills for lay persons (“liturgists” or “lay readers”) who assist the pastor in leading Christian worship. Particular emphasis will be given to basic skills: understanding your leadership role in relation to other leaders and the congregation, reading Scripture, leading prayer, distribution of the elements at the Lord’s Supper and basic dos and don’ts of effective worship leadership. Grant funds have been secured to allow 25 people to attend the live event at the conference center in Glen Allen at no cost. Applications will be taken on a first-come, first-accepted basis. For more information or to register, contact David Bailey at Cost is $30 for access to view the online session. Click here to register online and pay by credit card. More ...

March issue of 'To Arms!' is now online
The March 2016 issue of "To ARMS!," newsletter from the Virginia Conference Association of Retired Ministers and Spouses (ARMS), may be viewed and downloaded by going to or click here.

April 10 to be conference-wide day to pray for General Conference
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has invited each annual conference in the denomination to designate one day to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil for General Conference. Bishop Young Jin Cho has selected Sunday, April 10, to be the day for the Virginia Conference prayer vigil. The Virginia Conference delegation committees for worship and devotional life, conference Board of Discipleship and Kindred Project are developing resources that can be used for this event as well as during days following April 10 and throughout General Conference. District offices will coordinate the scheduling of local churches that wish to participate. Organizers are asking districts to encourage all congregations on the district to sign up for half-hour or one-hour increments so there will be 24 hours of continuous prayer beginning at 12 a.m. April 10 and continuing until 12 a.m. April 11. As part of this initiative, the chapel in the Virginia United Methodist Center in Glen Allen will be open for prayer. In addition, all congregations are asked to include the prayer initiative in their Sunday services on that day. More ...

Denman Award nominations due April 15
The Virginia Conference is now accepting nominations for The Harry Denman Evangelism Award for clergy, laity and youth. The Harry Denman Evangelism Award recognizes a person whose life and ministry exemplifies the teaching of Christ and the Great Commission. Recipients of these awards, nominated by individuals, churches or districts and selected by the Annual Conference, live their call to “Offer Them Christ” daily as modeled by Dr. Harry Denman, founder of The Foundation for Evangelism that sponsors these awards. To learn more about the award or to download nomination forms, go to Nominations must be received by April 15.

March is Women's History Month
March is designated as Women's History Month in The United Methodist Church, a month in which churches are encouraged to recognize and celebrate lives and contributions of women to their communities and The United Methodist Church. Click here to read about women in The United Methodist Church. Click here to learn more about the history of United Methodist Women and its legacy through animated shorts, video, a historical timeline as well as a living timeline. Click here for resources from Discipleship Ministries.

60 Days of Prayer for General Conference to begin March 31
The Upper Room has created resources for 60 Days of Prayer to help every local congregation pray with the delegates and church leaders for the 2016 General Conference. The 60 Days of Prayer begin March 31 and extend through May 29. The denomination’s legislative assembly is May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. The prayer guide is available online, as a PDF download and a daily email service. Prayer-bead kits with a commemorative medallion are also available. Click here to get resources.

2016 General Conference to consider budget increase
A proposed modest increase to the general church budget is heading to the 2016 General Conference when the lawmaking assembly meets May 10-20 in Portland. However, a number of United Methodists say that in the wake of continuing declines in U.S. worship attendance the general church needs to tighten its belt. The Rev. Marc Brown, Virginia Conference director of Connectional Ministires, is quoted. More ...

Young adult missionaries sought
Are you graduating soon? What are your plans for the next two years? Be part of a life-transforming mission opportunity by becoming a Global Mission Fellow. The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is looking for candidates to serve as young adult missionaries for the 2016–2018 term. Application deadline for Global Mission Fellows is March 31. More ...

NJFON files Supreme Court brief for young immigrants
National Justice for Our Neighbors (NJFON), a United Methodist network that advocates for immigration reform, filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court urging it to uphold two of President Obama’s immigration programs. The two programs provide temporary relief from deportation to young people brought to the U.S. as children and their parents. The court will hear oral arguments on April 18 and a decision is expected in late June or early July. More ...

Bishops urged to adopt accountability covenant
A bishops’ task force has recommended that the full Council of Bishops adopt a covenant of accountability. Read press release. The proposed covenant, based largely on the bishops’ consecration vows, comes at a time when the denomination is struggling with declining U.S. worship attendance, deep divisions regarding homosexuality and questions of what it means for church leaders to be accountable. General Conference 2016 delegates will consider multiple proposals aimed at holding bishops’ feet to the fire. More ...

California pastor featured on 'Chuck Knows Church' final episode
The Rev. Sarah Heath, a Southern California United Methodist pastor, will appear March 14 in the final episode of the successful Chuck Knows Church web series, “The Committee.” Click here to watch “The Committee.” Rancho Santa Margarita Patch reports on the series and Heath’s ministry. More ...

DISCIPLE Bible Study celebrates 30 years with receptions across U.S.
This year is the 30th anniversary of DISCIPLE Bible Study’s inception, and receptions will be held across the country to celebrate. These celebrations will be a time to meet people involved in the study, share memories, meet old friends and new and celebrate the impact the study has had over the past 30 years. Participants will receive a commemorative lapel pin. Want to be involved, but can’t attend a celebration? Take a picture of yourself with your manual and share it on Facebook or Twitter and follow along at #DISCIPLE30. Visit for more information and a printable poster for your church detailing the celebrations.

Elaine Heath named Duke Divinity dean
The Rev. Elaine A. Heath, a theologian, preacher, teacher and writer, will be the next dean of the United Methodist Duke Divinity School. At present, she is the McCreless Professor of Evangelism at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology in Dallas. More ...

Ecumenical Advocacy Days to be April 15-18 in Washington, D.C.
“Moral Monday” founder the Rev. Dr. William Barber, Children’s Defense Fund founder Marian Wright Edelman and IMA Word Health executive the Rev. Amy Gopp will be keynote speakers for Ecumenical Advocacy Days. The national gathering, an ecumenical Christian movement to mobilize Christians for advocacy on a wide variety of U.S. domestic and international policy issues, will be April 15-18 in Washington, D.C. Title of the 2016 gathering is “Lift Every Voice: Racism, Class and Power.” Sessions will be held at the DoubleTree Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va. – just across the Potomac River from the U.S. Capitol. The event concludes with Lobby Day when a prepared legislative “Ask” is taken to members of Congress by gathering participants. More ...

Viral Faith Community Design School to be April 11-13 in Nashville
Viral Faith Community Design School will be April 11-13 at United Methodist Discipleship Ministries Learning Center in Nashville, Tenn. The school will immerse you in the world of social media and provide one-to-one opportunities to learn various tools as you use them on your smartphones, tablets and computers. Leading edge speakers will share ideas and insights about the digital world and how we share the gospel of grace as found in Jesus Christ with a culture that is deeply interconnected through social media. Cost is $250 for the three-day experience. Housing at Scarritt Bennett Center is available for $65 a night (includes breakfast). More ...

Church and Society has two staff openings
The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), headquartered in Washington, D.C., currently has two openings for staff positions that need to be filled: 1) Director of Civil and Human Rights to administer civil and racial justice programs of GBCS, including the priority issues of immigration and restorative justice; and 2) Internship Programs Coordinator to provide direction and coordination for both the nine-week Ethnic Young Adults Summer Internship program and fall and spring residential and non-residential internships at GBCS. More ...

UMCom seeks director of Strategic Marketing, Advertising
United Methodist Communications (UMCom), headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., is seeking a director of Strategic Marketing and Advertising to lead UMCom's faith-based strategic marketing and advertising team. He/She will develop and implement strategic marketing plans for the organization and other client’s programs and products. Goal is to increase awareness and inform the world of the great works initiated by the people of The United Methodist Church. Application deadline is April 4. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - March 12
The Conference Disaster Response Team invites you to participate in a training event for anyone interested in disaster relief ministries. Early Response Team (ERT) certification training will be held 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, March 12, at Burke UMC, 6200 Burke Centre Parkway, Burke. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register, e-mail Michele Michaelian at More ...

♦ Overlook Confirmation Camp - March 18-19
Join other confirmands and their pastors/mentors at Confirmation Camp at Camp Overlook in Keezletown March 18-19 to discover what it means to be part of The United Methodist Church and what it means to be Christ’s disciples. Campers will meet a circuit-riding contemporary of John Wesley, explore a commitment to living United Methodist style, examine Lent and experience Easter through the help of a dramatic presentation by Overlook staff. Campers will also examine the Means of Grace and what it means to commit one’s life in service and explore the connectional nature of our church and what it means when we say the world is our parish. This weekend is intended to supplement studies in your local church and does not suffice as a complete confirmation experience on its own. Registration information can be found at Or call 540-2MY-CAMP or e-mail

♦ Dementia ministry training - March 22, 23
The Hermitage in Richmond and Hermitage in Northern Virginia, two of the communities of Virginia United Methodist Homes, Inc. (VUMH), will offer one-day learning opportunities for clergy and laity. "Building a Circle of Support: The Role of the Church in Supporting Individuals with Dementia and Their Care Partners" will be held Tuesday, March 22, at The Hermitage in Richmond, 1600 Westwood Ave. and on Wednesday, March 23, at Hermitage in Northern Virginia, 5000 Fairbanks Ave., Alexandria. Registration will start at 9:30 a.m. followed by learning and sharing sessions from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Keynote presenter for the day is Gary H. Oberlender, MD, consultant in geriatric medicine from Roanoke. Sessions will focus on "The ABC’s of Dementia” and "End of Life Care, Decision-Making Capacity, and the Role of Clergy." This event has been approved by the conference Board of Ordained Ministry for a 0.5 CEU credit. Cost is $25, which includes lunch, to be paid by cash or check upon arrival. Space is limited. Registration deadline is March 15. To register for Richmond event, contact Susan Cantrell at (804) 474-1850 or To register for Northern Virginia event, contact Lynette Mitchell at (703) 797-3814 or

♦ Ministers' Convocation - April 18-20
Registration is now open for the 2016 Ministers' Convocation, "Come to the Table: Bringing Food and Faith Together," which will be held April 18-20 at Virginia Crossings Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center, 1000 Virginia Center Parkway, Glen Allen. More ...

♦ Early Response Team basic training - April 23
United Methodist Early Response Teams (ERT) provide a caring Christian presence to storm and disaster victims. Training does not commit you to being on a team, but provides the opportunity to respond if your schedule allows. Teams provide many types of help: listening to residents, needs assessment, debris removal, sanitizing, flood “mucking out,” etc. Response is local or regional for three days. Training is beneficial even if you do not participate on a team. ERT certification training will be held 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Fieldstone UMC, 3385 N. Franklin St., Christiansburg. Cost is $55 (includes background check, t-shirt, manual, morning refreshments and lunch). Checks should be made out to the Virginia Conference and brought the day of training. To register or for more information, e-mail Steve Cass, trainer, at

For in-depth news and features about United Methodist mission and ministry, subscribe to the Virginia United Methodist Advocate, the Virginia Conference’s award-winning monthly magazine — now available in both print and digital formats. Click here to subscribe. Or call the Communications office at 1-800-768-6040, ext. 110, or (804) 521-1110. Or e-mail For information about the Virginia Conference and resources for ministry, visit the Virginia Conference website at



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The Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church
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